Import vs. Domestic Plastics Materials

When it comes to cars or perhaps beer, we generally associate imports with higher performance or quality craftsmanship (depending on your taste of course). For the most part, we can all find something good about our favorite import beer or perhaps a european sports or luxury car that sets them apart in our mind. In plastics, there are many companies that import resin systems or stock shapes materials from very reputable and quality companies in Europe and Asia. There are times however that sourcing these items may have some risks, depending on what material is being sourced and from what manufacturer.

If you have been reading this blog, you may already know that Plastics International sources and sells engineering plastic stock shapes all over the world. We have seen extremely good products that work well in demanding applications and we have seen some not so very good products fail and cause problems for job shops and their end users. Unfortunately, many times the motivation to use an import material is primarily motivated by a low price. But a low price can have some high priced consequences.

Take for example Acetals. There is already a great deal of confusion in our industry about homopolymers acetal (Delrin) vs copolymer Acetal (i.e. Tecaform, Acetron GP, Pomalux). These two products are not the same and they each have their pros and cons. When copolymer Acetal is the right material for the job, there are many quality products that can provide a good, stable stock shape to machine from. Lately, we’ve been seeing a flood of generic imports of copolymer Acetal in the market. The primary reason these products have made their way into the market is not because of any issues with the established brands. The import products are being introduced because they are offering extremely low prices in order to gain market share. So these products will tell you about how they offer “competitive” pricing but they often leave out what they don’t offer. These suppliers do not offer things like in-house tech support or testing labs, consistent resin supply and quick turn around should there be material problems. In some cases the resins they use may not always come from the same supplier nor might they carry all of the same specifications or certifications.

For many, this isn’t a problem or anything to worry about until something fails. The industry standard for stock shape manufacturers is to only credit for material, not labor. That means if a machined part fails, only replacement or credit for material is offered. Keep this in mind when a low priced import seems to good to be true. Plastics International offers a quality driven supply chain and accurate part numbers to ensure you know what material you are getting and that it will be the same high quality product on every order. Always ask for material certifications and don’t settle for “no-name” products from “no-name” manufacturers. You can always find data sheets to our products on-line to compare and make sure you are meeting the specifications for the print.

And yes, we do offer many different options of imported and domestically made products. Depending on your application and capabilities there may be some advantages to consider. Either way, we just want to make sure you have access to the best materials, cut to your size and shipped out same day/next day to help you exceed even your most demanding customers expectations. We can be your trusted partner, just let us know how we can help.

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